Government unveils raft of new measures to get homes built faster

October 1, 2018 / Isla MacFarlane
Government unveils raft of new measures to get homes built faster

The government has announced further plans to speed up the planning system as well as make better use of land and vacant buildings to get more homes build more quickly.

This includes more flexibility to extend upwards on existing blocks of flats, shops and offices making better use of space by increasing housing density.

The government has promised to champion councils who make new garden communities a central part of their plans for housing and economic growth with clearer rules to give more certainty for communities.

Local authorities will also receive additional freedom to make the most of existing brownfield land and dispose of surplus land that could instead accommodate new homes.

To support a successful Commonwealth Games in 2022 and create a legacy long after the games are over, £165 million has been announced to unlock up to 5,100 homes in Birmingham and provide the infrastructure to support these new homes.

As part of its comprehensive programme to improve building safety following the Grenfell Tower tragedy, the government has also confirmed that it will ban the use of combustible materials on external walls of high-rise residential buildings. The ban will also apply to hospitals, care homes and student accommodation over 18 metres.

The government has also announced that there will be a New Homes Ombudsman – a watchdog that will champion homebuyers, protect their interests and hold developers to account.

Katrine Sporle, The Property Ombudsman said, “We welcome the news that government will launch a New Homes Ombudsman. We have always agreed that new homes should be covered by an Ombudsman, as consumers have no idea that when they buy a new home directly from a developer they will have no access to a redress scheme. This announcement will mean the housing market becomes a fairer place for all involved.”

All new developers will be required to belong to a new homes ombudsman. More details are expected to be published soon.

In the meantime, the government said that it expects industry to continue to improve the current redress arrangements and improve the consistency of quality for new build homes.

The government also set out a package of planning reforms. These include: introducing a new permitted development right to allow property owners to extend certain buildings upwards, while maintaining the character of residential and conservation areas and safeguarding people’s privacy; clearer guidance to give more certainty for communities when land is needed to make a New Town a reality; giving local authorities more flexibility to dispose of surplus land that could instead accommodate new homes.

Finally, following the Grenfell Tower tragedy the government established a comprehensive building safety programme that included an independent review on fire safety and building regulations. In the summer, the government published its response to this review and said it would ban the use of combustible materials on external walls of high-rise buildings subject to consultation.

Following this consultation, the government has confirmed that it will take forward this ban on all high-rise buildings that contains flats, as well as hospitals, residential care premises and student accommodation above 18 metres.

This ban will be delivered through changes to building regulations guidance and will limit materials available to products achieving a European classification of Class A1 or A2.

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